Open Calendar


Click to print this page

Electronically Delivered Course Guidelines

Date of Current Revision:  March 2018      

Primary Responsible Officer: Provost or designee

Electronically Delivered Course Guidelines

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to align current University practices with the compliance requirements for electronically delivered courses


The Higher Learning Commission and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) have adopted the “Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC): Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education” as the standards by which online programs are evaluated and accredited. Nine specific categories are identified and cover all aspects of online program delivery and assessment. Demonstrated compliance with these guidelines is a requirement for regional accreditation through HLC and membership in SARA. Lack of compliance with these guidelines can lead to loss of institutional accreditation or other significant penalties and sanctions. Third party rankings, such as the U.S. News Ranking of Online Programs, use evidence of compliance with the C-RAC guidelines to review and rank institutions.


II. Scope

This policy applies to all faculty who teach electronically delivered courses and the departments involved in offering these courses. 

III. Definitions

“Electronically delivered courses” include for credit courses that are defined as online (asynchronously or synchronously) or hybrid. Hybrid classes are offered 50-99% online.


IV. Procedures

A. Terms and Administration

1. Academic departments in consultation with Online and Learning Engagement will determine the availability and scheduling of online and hybrid courses.
2. Academic departments are responsible for assigning qualified faculty to teach each course. 
3. The Academic department in consultation with the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation (DLII) instructional designers will ensure the most suitable delivery technology is matched with the objectives of the course. Refer to Academic Policy and Procedure: Syllabi for guidance related to program quality and learning outcomes, student engagement, and accessibility. 

B. Instructor educational development for online teaching (HLC 6)

1. UCM ensures that training and educational development in instructional design, pedagogy, accessibility, and online best practices is available through the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation.
2. Faculty will complete online learning pedagogy certification provided by DLII before teaching online courses and will renew the certification every five years. This requirement will begin in the fall semester 2018. Faculty who currently teach online courses before Fall 2018 are grandfathered for certification until 2023. 

C. Course Development and Design (HLC 3)

1. Discipline-specific best practices in course design are expected for all courses and will be evaluated by the department in consultation with the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation.
2. Faculty developers of online and hybrid courses are encouraged to adopt one of the UCM course shells available through the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation. If faculty developers do decide to use their own models, these models must be demonstrated to meet all best practice, quality, accessibility, and legal requirements and may not have the support of the university. Whether or not the course meets these requirements will be determined by trained course reviewers using established guidelines and standards.
3. Instructional design of online courses is supported through the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation. Instructional designers are available for training, consulting, designing, developing, and quality assurance review of online courses and instructional materials.
4. Departments offering online or hybrid courses are responsible for maintaining quality standards consistent with best practices in online course design and pedagogy by ensuring courses undergo online design certification coordinated by Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation before being offered online and renewed every five years. This requirement will begin in the fall semester 2018. Current online courses offered before Fall 2018 are grandfathered for certification until 2023. 

D. General Guidelines

1. Distance learning students shall have access to the same university resources as on-campus students. Consistent quality student services will be provided to the distance learner by the offices of Online and Learning Engagement, Technology, Registrar, Academic Advisement, Financial Aid, Library, Office of Accessibility, and other appropriate entities. (HLC 7)
2. The University uses a learning management system and it is the officially supported gateway to content and materials for online/hybrid courses. (HLC 7)
3. Technology, connectivity, and academic integrity support is provided throughout a course through the Office of Technology. (HLC 8, 9)
4. The number of seats in an online course should be determined by the department based upon rationales that reflect faculty workload expectations. Faculty will be compensated using existing policy for faculty load, i.e., in-load, overload, entrepreneurial, etc. (HLC 2)
5. Departments shall ensure faculty members maintain regular and substantive contact with students as required by federal guidelines and accrediting bodies, and that faculty are accessible and respond to student communications in a timely manner. Best practices state that 48 hours during the course week and by the next working day after a weekend or holiday are appropriate. Refer to Academic Policies and Procedures: Availability of Teachers Who Teach Classes (Office Hours) and Academic Policies and Procedures: Class Attendance for additional guidance. 
6. Departments, in consultation with the Office of Accessibility and the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation, shall ensure courses meet best practices in accessible course design as is required by University policy and federal law.



Revision History:

Approved 2000

Edited for web links, formatting and plain language. Approved December 2015.

Policy and current practice under review by Faculty Senate Distance Education Committee 2017.

Previously annotated as VII.11 Electronically Delivered Course Guidelines. Renamed Electronically Delivered Course Guidelines for alphabetical listing, grammar and spell check, and transitioned into policy library April 2017 
Policy reviewed and revised by the FS Distance Education Committee the Digital Learning and Instructional Innovation, and Online and Learning Engagement to align with current university practices and compliance requirements for electronically delivered courses. Approved by Provost March 2018.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linkedin
  • instagram